Meanwhile, far away from the intrigue of the Venetian court, Piero was trudging up a dusty road in a remote valley. As he walked, he kicked at the stones in his path and wondered what was going on back home. Would he return to find his brother ennobled, or dead? Would he return, for that matter, to find Venice at war, either besieged by some invading army or divided within itself? He had no way of knowing.
Just as these thoughts were occupying his attention, there came a clatter of weapons from a sage thicket ahead of him. In an instant, his path was blocked by a ragged-looking group of thieves.
‘You! Rich man!’ the leader shouted. ‘Where are you from?’
‘Venice,’ replied Piero, not quite knowing what else to say. The bandit threw a length of rope at his feet.
‘Bind your hands,’ he said. ‘You won’t be seeing Venice again for a long time.’
As Piero picked up the rope, he wondered how many key events in the unfolding saga he would miss, and how many of those events he would otherwise have been able to influence or even prevent with his unique skills of diplomacy and coercion. Oh well, he thought. It will certainly be more interesting with me out of the way.